How to Make Your Own Version of Monopoly
Monopoly is a board game was created in 1903 by Elizabeth Magie, born in Macomb, Illinois,
in 1866. She created it as a way to demonstrate that an economy which rewards wealth creation
is better than one in which wealthy people monopolize all of the market for a particular good
or service. Parker Brothers began selling the game the United States.
In the game up to 2 to 8 players (better with 4 players) choose a token for example a thimble
or a boot, to represent themselves, and take turns rolling dice to determine how many squares
to move their token on the game board. If they land on an unowned property, they can buy it
and collect rent from other players who land on their property.
If they land on property owned by another player, they have to pay rent to that player.
Players can develop their properties by buying houses and hotels to place on them. With
houses or hotels the property rent goes up. There is also chance involved if you land on
a square that requires you take a Chance and Community Chest card, which may cause you
to gain or lose money.
Each player starts out with $1500. One player, or a non-player acts as the Bank. Players
can buy and trade properties, and develop them with houses and hotels. The object being to
collect rent from their opponents, with the goal of driving them into bankruptcy.
Monopoly is currently published in 47 languages and sold in 114 countries. When a game
is published outside the United States, the names of properties are usually changed to
those of properties located in the native country.
In 1974 Professor Robert Anspach developed a game he named Anti-Monopoly. Parker Brothers
immediately sued him for trademark violation. The court determined that because consumers asked
for the game primarily by the name Monopoly only without inquiring further as to the maker
of the game, the name Monopoly is generic and not a brand name. The name Monopoly ceased to
be protectable as a trademark.
So anyone can develop their own property-trading games and call them "Monopoly" without fear
of being shut down or having to pay a royalty to Parker Brothers. Since the concept behind
Monopoly was introduced to the market in the 1930's, it is not subject to patent protection,
As a result, you are free to create a game with the same underlying rules of play.
However some of the creative elements, such as tokens and cards, may still be under copyright,
depending on the actual publication year, proper marking, and whether any registration was renewed.
And Parker Brothers/Hasbro still claims trademark rights to the name Monopoly and its variants,
seems they don't get the message.
So, at this point I must state the disclaimer that I am not engaged in rendering legal advise
or legal service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a
competent professional person should be sought.
If you are making a game strictly for yourself and your friends, you don't have to worry
about copyright laws, and your friends can enjoy it at parties and family game nights, and
they are bound to think that you are way cool. However, if you are making a game to manufacturer
and sell, you might want to make it as different as possible than any other game, don't use
the name "Monopoly", and consult the services of a competent lawyer.